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Journalist assaulted by individuals associated with mayor; another reports receiving death threats

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 6 December 2011, Armando Huamán Tasayco, a journalist for the Canal 33 television station and Radio Nova in Chincha, was attacked by individuals associated with the mayor of the district of El Carmen, José Alberto Soria Calderón, whom he videotaped having a drink at a bar. The incident took place in the southern Peruvian region of Ica.

According to images broadcast by Panamericana TV, the driver of an official municipally-owned vehicle, who has not yet been identified, and the other individual, who is known as Búho, chased the journalist, kicked him and smashed him in the head with a bottle, causing serious lacerations.

The journalist's assailants also stole his belongings, including his video recorder. Huamán Tasayco's son, who was with him at the time of the incident, managed to record the assault that resulted in the journalist being sent to a local hospital.

Huamán Tasayco, who is also a correspondent for the Frecuencia Latina TV station, told IPYS that the attack was in retaliation for a journalistic investigation he has been carrying out into allegations of embezzlement involving the mayor. The National Public Prosecutor's Office has already initiated a legal process against the mayor after noticing a 310% increase in his personal assets since 2007.

According to information the journalist had in his possession, on the morning prior of the day on which he was assaulted, the mayor had held a suspicious meeting with a Public Prosecutor's Office official.

Huamán Tasayco now fears for his life and that of some members of his family, who accompany him during his journalistic investigations. He has received several death threats telling him to stop investigating the mayor.

In a separate incident, on 9 December, Robert Santillán Ñontol, presenter of the "Jaque Mate" programme aired by Canal 21, told IPYS that he is constantly receiving death threats via telephone calls because he has questioned the protests against the Conga mining project in the northeastern region of Cajamarca. The calls have been made from public phones or cell phones with restricted numbers.

The journalist said he fears for his safety and that of his family. The threats have come in response to his criticisms of the way some environmental leaders have acted during one of the most significant social crises in Peru in recent times, which led to a ten-day long strike and the declaration of a state of emergency.

Santillán Ñontol said he has received death threats previously, specifically during the general elections campaign. In that previous instance, the threats originated from supporters of then candidate and now President Ollanta Humala, whom he had criticised.

IPYS condemns the actions against Huamán Tasayco and Santillán Ñontol.

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